Advisers come forward over West Brom rate hike challenge

Advisers whose clients have been caught out by the hike on West Bromwich Building Society’s tracker rates are joining the Property118 campaign, Mark Alexander has claimed.

The former broker and founder of campaign group Property118 has said more advisers have come to express their interest in joining his collective action against the building society, which confirmed earlier this year that 6,700 buy to let mortgage rates will rise 2 per cent in December.

He said: “Borrowers have told us that they complained to WestBrom, but that their complaints have often been met with ‘go speak with your mortgage adviser’.

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“However, both consumers and advisers have told us they had not been fully aware of the meaning of the terms and conditions about the tracker margin. In fact, I sold mine to myself and I read the conditions in detail. There was no reason for me to believe that the margin would rise.”

He has created a template letter for advisers and their clients to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service, as well as complete an expression of interest form for the collective action that Property118 is preparing to take against WestBrom.

Mr Alexander said he has already raised more than half of the £100,000 needed to bring legal action and has instructed Justin Selig, founder of The Law Department, to look into the case. Mr Alexander said he expects to lodge papers with the appropriate court early next year.

Donna Hopton, director of IFA network Cherry, said: “It is refreshing to note that the class action is clearly not against the advisers who have been duped as much as the consumers.”

Right to Reply:

A spokesman for WestBrom said: “We cannot comment on individual cases but borrowers who wish to make a complaint have been advised on the best way to contact the Society. When a complaint is received, we consider the borrower’s views carefully and respond to them directly.

“We believe the details and the reasons behind possible changes in rates of interest are stated clearly. It is no different to any other T&C of the mortgage. Everything has equal prominence.”